CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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I WILL

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
 
Luke 13, New Living Translation
Jesus Grieves over Jerusalem
 
Luke 13 Jesus came to save me
31 At that time some Pharisees said to him, “Get away from here if you want to live! Herod Antipas wants to kill you!”
 
Luke 13 Jerusalem and Jesus32 Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. 33 Yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn’t do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem!
 
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 35 And now, look, your house is abandoned. And you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
Luke 13 love doesJesus pressed on to Jerusalem where God would allow His One and Only Son to be sacrificed for the sin of the world He loved…His created. It is amazing mercy, grace and unconditional love that drove God, Our Father to this decision that was planned “while we were yet sinners”.
 
Jesus died a cruel death after being beaten beyond human recognition. After three days, He rose from the grave, defeating the enemy of death. He fulfilled all the prophets said as directed by God. He finished the mission and plan of bringing all people who believe back to God in relationship and be part of His family for eternity. Yes, blessed indeed, is the One who came to complete what God sent Him to do.
 
AND we will see Jesus again. He’s coming back, you know.
 
Luke 13 third day
The THIRD DAY made the life or death difference for all of us. “…and the third day I will accomplish my purpose.” “I will”, said Jesus, and He did. At the end, on the cross, he cried out these last words, “It is finished.” IT was our salvation.
 
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NLT
 
HOLY PAUSE…
 
Luke 13 empty tombDoes Jesus still grieve over those who refuse to believe and follow Him?
 
Can we put the name of our city or town in the place of Jerusalem in this passage?
 
Does my behavior grieve His Holy Spirit who lives in me?
 
“For God so loved…” Think of all the ways God unconditionally loves us. How can we love like that today?
 
What is my purpose and mission? Am I driven by God and the power of His Holy Spirit to accomplish it?
 
We must cast our gaze from the cross to the empty grave for that is the victory that overcame to world!
 
Luke 13 always
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Your Word and Holy Spirit causes us to pause to pray for repentance. It stops our worldly thoughts and to do lists to consider the gift of your salvation. It compels me to pray for all the lost people in our community, in our families and among our dearest friends. I am grateful beyond words for my own salvation but I long for the salvation of family members. I’m not sure how to thank you except for offering my life back to you as a living sacrifice. Show me your plan for me today. I want what you want. I am listening.
 
In Jesus Name, Amen
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NARROWLY PRESSING ON…

Luke – Doors Wide Open
Luke 13 sorry
My dad used to often say in conversations of judgement of others, “We all might be surprised who we see in heaven. We might be surprised at who isn’t there and surprised at who makes it through the door.” In other words, don’t judge. Only Jesus decides because He knows and sees our hearts.
 
Luke 13 narrow door
The doors to God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is wide open to all who believe, accept and turn from evil to follow Jesus. But to those who only are impressed with Jesus and continue to live like the rest of the world will be shut out in the end. The “narrow” door or the “narrow” road are both great illustrations of how hard it is to be completely committed with our hearts, minds and souls. But this is exactly what God is looking for. “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9, NLT
Luke 13 narrow road
It is easy to say yes to the King of kings but it is not easy to make the complete U-turn to follow Him in all circumstances. It is going in a different direction than the rest of the world who do not believe and want to continue in their selfish, do it my way, attitudes and beliefs. It is counter to culture. It is swimming upstream while the rest go with the flow. Because it is hard, the Lord, as it states in 2 Chronicles, provides help and power to fulfill His purpose in us that was decided before we were born. This power and help is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is as close as your prayer, submission and humility.
 
Luke 13 striveAs Jesus “presses on” to fulfill His mission to save us in Jerusalem, he seeks out the lost along the way. He wants people to know what God’s Kingdom looks like, who God is, and why a holy relationship with God is so important to life. Many follow because he is a compassionate healer. But Jesus is so much more…He is our Savior. Only a few, true disciples “get it” but those few are given power to preach and tell His story of salvation. Those few are the reason we are still talking about Jesus today.
 
Luke 13 narrow to heavenThe narrow door is the final passage to God’s Kingdom. If you did not believe or follow in this life, then the door will be closed to us in the next life. It is a pretty simple explanation. It brings us to only two choices. Follow Jesus into Life abundant and forever…or not.
 
Luke 13, New Living Translation
The Narrow Door
 
22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
 
Luke 13 getting inHe replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
 
28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. 29 And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. 30 And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”
 
HOLY PAUSE…
 
Luke 13 here I amAre we only impressed by Jesus?
 
Have we said yes to Jesus and His salvation but prefer to continue to go our own way and live our lives the way we have always lived? Isn’t that confusing? Divided?
 
Do you love our Lord and Savior with all your heart, mind and soul, undivided in your attention and relationship to Him?
 
Has the Lord looked over the earth and found you as one who’s heart is completely His? Have you asked for His strength? He will give it freely.
 
When the narrow door closes, will you be on the other side of the door?
 
Luke 13 24
It doesn’t matter who you are but Who you belong to in the end.
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
You are Lord of my life. My heart, mind and soul belong to you. I am grateful that you will help us, show us the way with each step we take. I am thankful that you strengthen us as we “press on” in this world while preparing for life with you forever. Press on with transforming my life to be all you intended for me to be and do. Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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SEEDS AND YEAST

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
 
Luke 13 nurture
The seed of faith was planted in my life many years ago by parents and grandparents. When I left my pew and walked down the aisle of the church in Oklahoma City at age 11 to accept Jesus as my Savior, the seed began to take root. For succeeding years I leaned on the faith of those who loved me dearly in their faith in Christ and taught me how to love and serve like Jesus. When my grandpa, the wise and loving patriarch of the family suddenly, (at least to me), passed from this life to the next I felt my faith falter. Who I had been leaning on was no longer there. I didn’t fall to the ground because then I leaned on my two grandmothers who had enough faith for all of us. A few years later, in my young adults years, they passed away. It was then my faith was tested.
 
Luke 13 protectingQuestions rose up like tidal waves of doubt came crashing over my soul. Who do I trust more than my grandparents? Why do I go to church? Why do I do anything for God? Has it been to please my parents and grandparents because they smiled every time I did something for God or stood in testimony at church for Jesus? Was my faith only as strong as their faith that I was leaning on? Was my love for God tied so deeply to my love for my grandparents that I can’t feel or see His unconditional love for me?
 
Luke 13 seeds of faithWe all experience crossroads that force us to decide the depth, sincerity and authenticity of our faith in God, the Father. We must stop leaning on the faith of our family and lean wholly and completely on our faith, trust and hope in God who created us. We must examine our lives from the inside out. We must ask God for help and He will give it. He will help us see more clearly with new hearts, renewed minds, and with open souls to be filled with all of God, His Son and His Holy Spirit. When we do, our seeds of faith, planted years ago, no longer lean on others’ faith. Our seedling of faith, built on Jesus Christ alone, will gain strength. Our roots go deeper still. Our faith grows into a tree that weathers all storms.
 
Luke 13 seedlingNew seedlings (our children and grandchildren) might lean on our faith and “nest in our branches” for awhile, but we must wean them from our faith in God to grow and mature in their own, stand alone faith in the One who saves us and matures us.
 
Luke 13, New Living Translation
Parable of the Mustard Seed
Luke 13 seed and yeast18 Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? 19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”
 
Parable of the Yeast
20 He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? 21 It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
 
Luke 13 yeastHOLY PAUSE…
 
Is our faith making a difference in the lives we encounter each day? What we say and do, how we respond to the world, the process of our thinking and behaving is like the yeast in bread dough. It rises or it doesn’t. I love Jesus’ illustrations, don’t you?
 
Luke 13 making bread
The bread dough will either rise or fall, depending on the power of the yeast. I make bread. I know how it works.
The yeast has to be fresh and active or it loses it’s power. It also has to go into the warm water and stay until it bubbles before serving the dough as a catalyst to rise and grow.
 
Luke 13 rising dough
I ask myself, how powerful is the yeast in His Kingdom work am I contributing to the world who needs to know the Bread of Life? How fresh and active is my faith? Am I making a difference by permeating the world with my faith while showing and telling them Who will save them?
 
Luke 13 bread of lifeDear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Hallowed is Your Name. Thank you for speaking to our hearts about what is most important in our growing and mature in our faith. Help us to lean solely on You, trusting You while putting all our hope in You. Help us to grow strong enough to point others to You and wise enough to avoid others leaning on us. When we are put through the fires, help us rise to new heights in our faith. You alone are God and we are not. YOU are the Bread of Life that feeds us for eternity.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
I need to go make some bread!
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“YEAH, BUT…”

Luke – Wide Open Doors!
 
Luke 13 yeah, butIt is a proven, irritating fact of life that there will always be a “Yeah, but” person or persons in our lives. They seem to be relentless in putting down all that is good in order to sustain the self given power and authority they think they have. Guess what? It’s been going on for a long time.
 
My dad used to call my little brother (much younger at the time) a “yeah, but” person. Why? Because everything we suggested whether it would be going on a trip, being on the trip, where to eat, what to eat, making any decision on an activity for the family OR having any meaningful conversation, my brother he would end the discussion with, “Yeah, but…” His “yeah, but” was always followed with the opposite Luke 13 stillof what the rest of us were thinking. Sometimes we would consider his opinion because as the spoiled youngest in the family he generally got his way. I learned to just go with it because what we were deciding wasn’t worth the battle. But, it was annoying.
 
How much MORE so are the “yeah, but” people who criticized Jesus in every move He made and every word He said. Here is the Son of God come down, accused of being against God, accused of disobeying God’s law all while doing exactly what God told Jesus to say and do.
 
Jesus sees people with eyes of compassion and acts from that point of view and thinking. “Yeah, but…you ‘worked’ on the Sabbath!” is the irritating (to us) reply of the religious elite. The leaders are not seeing the larger picture.
 
Do we do that sometimes? “Yeah, but…”
 
Luke 13, New Living Translation
Luke 13 Jesus heals a womanJesus Heals on the Sabbath
 
10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
 
Luke 13 yeah, buts14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”
 
15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”
 
17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.
 
WHAT DO WE LEARN…
 
1. Religion is rule-keeping with a “yeah, but” attitude which leads to a critical spirit. It can happen to all of us.
2. We learn to look through the lens of Jesus who sees others with compassion, who is willing to help at all cost, who sees the vision of the mission with a passion to save and restore all that was once lost.
3. Jesus is the One and Only who can shame “yeah, but” people with the Truth. He loves His enemies. His goal is to seek and save all people. Let us not forget that.
4. Truth wins every time.
 
When we say yes to God, sometimes there will be “yeah, but” people in our lives who try to talk us out of doing what God invited us to be and do. There will be other “yeah, but” people who will try to hinder the work with criticisms for how you do the work. Take it all to the Lord (with a gain of salt) and ask for wisdom, clarity, insight and understanding. God will give it to us every time. Don’t let “yeah, but” people rule your lives.
 
God delights in the details of our lives. So give all the details over to Him and listen for his assignment. He will lead you to it and through it with all you need for the invitation to join Him in HIS work.
 
HOLY PAUSE…
And finally, pray for “yeah, but” people who are full of doubt, fears and misunderstanding. Avoid growing in frustration and just pray for them. Pray for their release of self control to the control of God and what He wants. Jesus advised us to pray for our enemies. He prayed for His enemies.
Luke 13 forgive
Jesus looked down from the cross at the scene and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” (Luke 23, NLT) Heart stopping, to think about, right?
 
Sometimes, WE can be “yeah, but” people. Stop and think. What is at the root of our complaining or cautious criticism? Take it to Jesus and see what He says. Ask for wisdom to see the details as He sees them. Ask for insight to see how the same outcomes can be achieved from a different perspective and be okay with that. Let us do nothing to hinder the cause and mission of helping people find and follow Jesus. Ask for God’s help to see the larger picture.
 
Instead of “yeah, but…” think this instead; “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT)
 
Luke 12 thank GodDear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
It is so good to be with You this morning and listen to Your words of Truth leap off the page and go straight to my heart. It is fitting to hear and to heed what Your Holy Spirit is saying to us for our own good. Your Word helps me to grow richer, deeper into the fertile soil of what it right and good for us. Your Holy Spirit helps us to bear the fruits of the character of You. Help me to see what you see. Help me to be and do what you created me to be and do.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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EVERYTHING NEW

Luke – Wide Open Doors!
 
Luke 13, New Living Translation
A Call to Repentance
 
LUke 13 unlessAbout this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. 2 “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? 3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. 4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? 5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
 
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Luke 13 changeJesus came to earth from heaven to seek and to save the lost. Because He is God in the flesh, who moved into the neighborhood of His own creation, He knows what He is talking about. Jesus is the Way to salvation of our souls and a glorious relationship with God. Jesus speaks the Truth with compassion, tenacity, wisdom, and unconditional love, mercy and grace. Jesus is the way and the truth to abundant Life like no other life ever lived. It is a life of truth, a life of joy in and through all circumstances of this life, and it is Life eternal with Him.
 
Jesus reminds us of our part in this eternal equation of having a new and abiding relationship with God the Father. We must repent. “Unless we repent, we will perish.” We must lay down our selfishness, pride, control of our own destiny, hate, jealousy, wanting our own way with everyone and God, and thinking only of ourselves and repent of all the ways we have been living without Him. New life begins when we sincerely repent with heart’s desire never to return to the scene of the crime of self.
 
Can we live this new life on our own power and good intentions? No. We enter a battle with the evil one who wants to keep us lost and selfish so we can be destroyed. Satan will do everything in his limited power to distract you from your new life with Jesus. So, we must daily lay down our will for Jesus’ will. Bow at the feet of Jesus in prayer with a listening heart. He wants the best for us. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. HE will fight your battle because HE has already won this war.
 
Luke 13 bearing repentanceI am reminded of Paul’s words to the Romans, “I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
 
What does God find “acceptable”? Holiness from Him through our repentance and remorse that is honest. Micah, the prophet of God says it best,
 
“What can we bring to the Lord?
Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High
with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?
 
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.”
(Micah 6:6-8 NLT)
 
We only bring ourselves in humble repentance to Him in the Name of Jesus Christ who paid the debt of our sin. Our work is to now walk in the Way Jesus taught us to walk…do what is right in God’s eyes, be merciful and kind, and walk humble with God! Nothing in this world we can bring to Him is fitting for our Lord…only the emptying of ourselves…so we can be filled with all of Him.
 
Luke 13 God wantsTo repent and be saved means leaving and being saved from this world’s thinking and behaving and living a new Life that bears the fruits of the characteristics of Jesus Christ, our Lord. What are the fruits that will begin to show up in lives yielded to Christ?
 
“…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:22-26, NLT)
 
THIS is what it means to find, repent of the sins of the old life, do a 180, and follow Christ. New life is, well…NEW, not like the old!
 
Are we there yet? Prayerfully we are on our way, His way!
 
Because if we are not bearing fruit….
 
Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
LUke 13 I'll tend it6 Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. 7 Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
 
8 “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9 If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
 
HOLY PAUSE…
Luke 13 nurtureSometimes I feel like Jesus, our Savior, who is our advocate, (speaks up for us), to God the Father and says, “Give them one more chance to come to you, to grow in you and bear the fruits of your Holy Spirit.” Maybe this is stretching our thinking a bit, but consider this thought. Jesus died on a cross for all our sin which tells of the depth of His love and compassion for us. I don’t want to just take up space in the “garden” without bearing the fruits of His Holy Spirit. But I realize I do need his “special attention and plenty of help (fertilizer)” some days when I feel like I am stunted in my growth. He comes and sets me straight, clears away the debris and weeds, and provides the water I need to grow and bear His fruit once more. Hallelujah!
 
luke-13-one-more-year.jpg
What do you think?
Are you stuck and stunted in your growth?
Do you need help?
Ask God in Jesus Name and He will provide all you need to continue to grow once more.
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for speaking to our hearts about what you want for us. Thank you for tending to our growth with your nurturing hand. Thank you for loving us the way you do. Thank you for renewing my mind and restoring my soul through repentance of going my own way that leads nowhere. Continue to do what you must so I will grow into all you intended me to be. You are God and I am not. You know what is best always.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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DIVISION IS PART OF DECISION!

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
Luke 12 hypocrites
We cannot be in the world, thinking and behaving like the world and say we believe in Jesus and follow Him. When we choose Him with heart, mind and soul, others will not be happy with you. A line is drawn in the sand and you have stepped over it to be with Jesus, to be like Jesus and do what He wants to do in your life.
It will not be what those who don’t follow Jesus will want from you or for you. They want you completely to themselves. Those who are selfish concerning you and your time with them will be the most saddened that you have made this decision to follow Jesus instead of them. They want to be the one that monopolizes your time, telling you who are are and what they want you to be. So, don’t think this life of following Jesus will be easy. Don’t think that your family and friends might leave you, make fun of your life with Jesus or be mad because you are following Jesus. It will happen.
The line in the sand has been made. You are for Jesus, all in with Jesus…or you are not. We cannot stand on the line, teetering on the line, by holding out one hand to Jesus and the other clinging still to our former lives which include the world and all it has to offer to us.
Make the choice to love and follow Jesus and stick with it. Be ready to serve Jesus at a moment’s notice. Choose wisely. Serve with glad hearts. Your choice has eternal, life or death consequences.
Luke 12, New Living Translation
Be Ready for the Lord’s Coming
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”
42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.
47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.
Jesus Causes Division
49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! 52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.
53 ‘Father will be divided against son
and son against father;
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother;
and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”
54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. 55 When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. 56 You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.
57 “Why can’t you decide for yourselves what is right? 58 When you are on the way to court with your accuser, try to settle the matter before you get there. Otherwise, your accuser may drag you before the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison. 59 And if that happens, you won’t be free again until you have paid the very last penny.”
LUke 12 follow is a choiseChoose this day whom you will serve. This has been and always will be a choice to make before God.
“But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, NLT
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No regrets. No shame. “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!”, says Jesus. Are we on fire for and with him?
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Set our hearts on fire! I choose You above all that this world has to offer. You are the One and Only. You are unchangeable in your love and word for us. You are trustworthy and keep all your promises. No human can do that. Why would I choose anyone or anything above you alone? You are Creator of all, in all and above all. You know our comings and goings. You delight in every detail of our lives. I love you back with all my heart, mind and soul. I’m ready. Come, Lord Jesus.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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THE DESIRES OF OUR HEARTS

Luke – Wide Open Doors!
 
Luke 12 desire of your heart
Who doesn’t worry? We all can easily find something to worry about, can’t we? My dad used to joke that he was a professional at worrying…he could and would worry about your problems, too! We worry about having enough money to pay the bills, even when an unexpected expense arises. We worry about our kids, even after they have grown and left our home and responsibility. We worry about our grandchildren. We worry about the care and feeding of our possessions we have accumulated in this life. Taking care of what we already have takes a lot of time. We worry about having enough storage to take care of what we have accumulated, buying organization equipment to make it all tidy!
 
Luke 12 dont be anxiousWe worry, these days, about having enough time even more than money! Time is now more precious than money! That’s why many of us won’t commit right away to anything that requires dependency of our presence in volunteering or any other social engagement…until the last minute, because we haven’t decided if we have enough…time. Time is money!
 
Luke 12 journey of the heart
We worry about having enough time to complete all we think we must accomplish in the timeline we have created or has been created for us by our employer. Does worrying about the timeline help to accomplish it? (Short answer is no.) Worrying only creates stress and robs us of the joy of the work we say we love or have to do to make life work for us. Mm. Can I get off this treadmill that goes nowhere? (Yes.)
 
HOLY PAUSE…
luke-12-deepest-desires.png
Maybe we are pondering the wrong questions. Maybe we need to take a look at the real desires of our hearts.
 
What do our hearts desire?
 
Who is at the center of our hearts?
 
Who puts the joy of life in our DNA?
 
Where can we find peace once more?
 
Can we just turn worry off by ourselves?
 
luke-12-how-to-get.jpgLuke 12, New Living Translation
Teaching about Money and Possessions
 
22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
 
27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
 
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29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
 
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
 
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
 
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
 
Luke 12 new heartFirst of all, Jesus says do not worry. What is worry? Worry is a verb. Worry gives way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. As a noun, it is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.
 
Wait, what? Read the above again. We worry and “dwell” on things that have not happened?!? We are “potential problem” worriers? Yes we are, unless we change the desires of our hearts!
 
Where do our thoughts wander in a day (and night)? What keeps us up at night instead of enjoying the rest we need? Well, it goes back to what the desires are of our hearts?
 
Luke 12 delightIf Jesus is at the center of our hearts, as we say we believe, then why aren’t we allowing His Holy Spirit to guide our hearts? There is no place for worry about anything in His Holy Spirit thinking. Jesus has washed away all sin. His Holy Spirit guides us to thinking and behaving more and more like Jesus.
 
That’s what we should desire above all…above all money concerns, timelines of life’s work, ministry, volunteering, and even relationships. Seek God first and let Him guide the rest of life and all that is in it. Love God first with all that is in you, realize by reading His Word the depth of His love for you BEFORE trying to love others the way Jesus loves us. Know where our help comes from because we cannot do life on our own. He knows that about us and provides all the help we need…worrying is not part of that help, only assurance!
 
Psalm 121
1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
 
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
 
5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
 
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
 
Yes, we cannot do life alone. We need God who saved us by the work of Jesus Christ, His Son. We need His gift of His Holy Spirit living in us every hour of every day to comfort, correct, challenge, protect our thinking, guide our thoughts to higher ground thinking so that we do not worry about things of this life that are very temporary.
 
luke-12-god-already.jpgWhat is the desire of your heart? Right now?
 
Are we ready lay down the worry at the feet of Jesus who is standing near, waiting for us to rise up with Him in the lead by the power of His Holy Spirit?
 
You will be delighted when you do, because this delights our Lord! “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 ESV
 
My desire is to stop worrying as a noun and a verb in my life. How about you? The desires of our hearts to seek God first comes with a promise…“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
 
Yes, when my desires match the desires and will of God’s heart for me, I am guided on a path that is beyond my wildest dreams! Worry is baggage that needs to be put down and kicked to the curb. I no longer have the time or the energy to carry it.
 
AND not worrying will adds years to my life…a health benefit!
(Better than the Keto diet I’m on!)
 
So, again, what is the chief desire of your heart?
 
Luke 12 worry
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank your for this lesson of truth that makes our relationship with you richer and our hearts full of joy and peace. The unexpected will come but I know and expect you to be there with us. I seek You first. I will love You first. You are God and I am not. All my hope, faith and trust is in you. Give me the desires of Your heart for me. I delight myself in you…
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…(Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave)
 
I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming
I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming
 
I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
 
God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
I know the power of Your Cross
Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God
And all that You’ve done is so overwhelming
 
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
 
And God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
 
You are Beautiful, You are Beautiful
Oh God, there is no one more Beautiful
You are Beautiful, God you are the most Beautiful
You are Wonderful, You are Wonderful
Oh God, there is no one more Wonderful
You are Wonderful, God You are the most Wonderful
You are Glorious, You are Glorious
Oh God, there is no one more Glorious
You are Glorious, God you are the most Glorious
 
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You…
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